The New Energy Economy is boasting an old ally the U.S. military, which is increasingly employing renewable energies and high technologies. With the U.S. armed forces moving in, the question then becomes how such a market place will unfold and who will be the major players in it.
The U.S. Department of Defense is modernizing its military bases both domestically and around the world because it is saving lives, and money. Because it must remain on its toes, the military is continually moving generators and fossil fuels resources that can run low and endanger the well-being of existing operations. By carrying sustainable sources of power with them, soldiers are reducing their risks while also cutting their emissions.
When we think about power, we cant have a short power interruption or a cyber hack, says Mark Russell, vice president for technology at defense contractor Raytheon Raytheon Co., in an interview. We need to be able to operate off the grid.
How so? Instead of generators and lots of fossil fuels, the Defense Department is relying increasingly on things like solar panels, battery storage and microgrids that deliver the power to enclosed campuses. Raytheon engineers the concepts and writes the software that glues it all together.
Consider the Marine Corps Air Station near San Diego that is using a microgrid that was developed in part with Raytheon technology, in conjunction with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory: Solar panels are creating the electricity, which is being harnessed by a battery storage system built by Primus Power. The end result, says Russell, is a reliable, continuous flow of power.
Altogether, the Defense Department has set a lofty goal for itself to consume 3,000 megawatts from renewable sources by 2025. Getting there is an imperative, given that it is now spending $4 billion annually to power its current installations and operations, says Russell. The major costs are the logistics associated with moving the generators and fuels items that could eventually be displaced with 21st Century technologies.
The goal is to make renewable energy smooth and manageable, or not to have interruptions in service when the weather is disagreeable, says Russell. If we can perfect this using a microgrid with energy storage, it could change how the military and how commercial businesses operate.